A toxic mix of voter suppression and dark money infusions has allowed Republicans to seize power at the state level across America, producing a series of living labs where their ideology has been allowed to play out with disastrous consequences.
Oklahoma is one of those states. Governor Mary Fallin was elected in 2011 with a promise to slash taxes for the wealthiest and for corporations, and so she did. When oil prices subsequently collapsed in 2014, Oklahoma went broke. A fifth of Oklahoma school districts no longer offer classes on Mondays or Fridays as a cost-savings measure. Mental health services, and other must-haves, have been devastated by cuts, turned into useless, hollow shells.
Oklahoma has historically been a great place to be a Republican candidate, with 70 out of 101 House seats and 39 of 48 Senate seats in GOP hands. But when Oklahoma held special elections this year, the majority went to Democrats, with four seats flipping parties, despite massive overspending by unsuccessful GOP candidates who were toppled by cash-strapped Dems.
The victories were due in part to Democrats coming out to vote for genuine progressive candidates, but also by a collapse in Republican voter turnout, as Republicans found themselves unable to hold their noses and vote for whatever idiotic Rand-besotted ideologue the party stuck on the ballot.
"The formula has been very similar for each of these races," Whelan said of the Democrats' special election victories in Oklahoma this year. "There are a lot of Republicans out there with buyer's remorse with President Trump, which naturally suppresses turnout."
Going forward, Ikley-Freeman plans to look at corporate tax breaks and incentives as a potential area to cut back to help fill the budget hole.
"We have a lot of corporations in Oklahoma who were given incentives to move here many many years ago that have continued and at this point are draining Oklahoma dry and really need to be discontinued," she said.